By Umaid Wasim,
Pakistan head-coach Mohammed Al Shamlan will not extend his contract with the national team after it expires in July this year.
Shamlan has been at the helm since August 2013 when he was appointed in place of Serb Zavisa Milosavljevic a few days prior to the SAFF Championships.
His arrival was swift with Milosavljevic losing his job following Pakistan’s 3-0 loss to Afghanistan in a friendly a few days before the start of South Asia’s marquee football event but he made sure that his departure wouldn’t be rapid.
“I won’t be extending my contract when it ends in July,” Shamlan told Dawn on Tuesday after the senior team and the U-23 side played a friendly game following the postponement of their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Yemen.
With the sun setting at the Punjab Stadium, Shamlan said that he was “tired of the constant pressure and criticism” as the sun sets on his Pakistan career. “I’m tired of working in Pakistan because there is no vision at all,” he said. “There is only talk of high achievements which can never be fulfilled because there aren’t any solid steps being taken to achieve those goals.
“They [PFF] talk about qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 but that dream cannot be realized because there isn’t anything being done to promote the standard of local football.
“Football will only improve here if the standard of the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) improves, but I haven’t seen any improvement in it.
“There is lot of talk but no action.”
He said it was high time for the country’s football governing body to decide on one philosophy and stick to it. “When I came, I was given the task of building the U-23 team and gradually making it to the senior team,” he said.
“I had been working with the local lads for almost a year before the World Cup qualifier came up. And from nowhere, there was pressure on me [from some PFF officials] to include foreign-based players.”
“I’m okay with Zesh [Rehman] and Hassan [Bashir] but I was forced to include Mohammed Ali in the team.
“I found out that he was no good than the players I already have in Mansoor Khan and Mohammad Adil for that position.”
Ali started the 3-1 loss to Yemen in the first leg in Doha last week but was replaced by Adil 50 minutes into the match.
Shamlan said the PFF needed to sort things out where they need to go.
“They need to work on one plan and work consistently on it if they want to see Pakistan achieving the sort of glory they crave,” he said.
During Shamlan’s tenure, Pakistan football achieved some notable highs including the team reaching the final of Philippines Peace Cup in 2013 before a sensational 2-0 victory over India at Bangalore in August last year which helped them win the series 2-1 overall. There was also a 2-0 victory over Afghanistan in a match which was to be a warm-up for the World Cup qualifier in February – a result which helped them exact revenge for the 3-0 loss the neighbours which led to Shamlan’s arrival.
Before he leaves, though, Shamlan has a few assignments.
First is the second leg of the World Cup qualifier before the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers.
The AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers were slated to be held in Lahore later this month but were cancelled in wake of unrest following the twin bombings in churches in the city which also led to the Yemen game being postponed.
The U-23 qualifiers, which also double up as preliminaries for the 2016 Rio Olympics, are now likely to be held from April 1-10 with Pakistan facing Kuwait, Jordan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan in Group ‘B’.
“I’ll give my best to help the side turn the [World Cup] tie around,” Shamlan added. “And I also hope we’ll do well in the U-23 qualifiers.”